FLESH & BLOOD COMMUNICATION. Social networking, self-promotion and sex are the hallmarks of queer bloggers like Bravehound's Andrew MacDonald.
Blogging might be a solitary act but it's fast becoming a no-brainer way to meet actual people. Many bloggers are slick social-networkers who constantly visit other blogs in a bid to drive traffic to their own sites. The gay blogosphere is no different. Some queer bloggers generate clicks using personal charisma, while others simply post free porn.
A number of Canadian sites were recently nominated by US-based awards like the Gay Bloggies and Verve. Here are some nominees and winners — just the tip of the iceberg, really, of queer Canuck blogging.
Naturally sex is big in the gay blogosphere, but one of the more lurid sites is Electricblue04.
FLESH & BLOOD COMMUNICATION. Social networking, self-promotion and sex are the hallmarks of queer bloggers like Produzentin.
blogspot.com, an on-line diary run by a 20-year-old university student in Atlantic Canada. Ben (not his real name) is a closeted bi-curious guy who blogs about blowing his straight — or possibly straight-acting — friends and then posts photos and videos of the deeds on-line.
"They would kill me if they knew," he says.
"But the way I see it, nobody knows who they are except me. I don't post face pictures of them or me, so if someone did see my blog and happen to know us, it would be hard to link us together."
He started the site roughly two years ago to share stories of his sexual encounters with on-line friends. At first, he neglected the blog because he was noticing a pattern in his stories. "They come over, watch TV, I put my hand over, start rubbing them, blow them off and continue to watch TV."
When Ben started blogging, he had just learned to walk again. Three years ago he was struck by a "moving object" and paralyzed from the waist down. After two surgeries and nearly 14 hours under the knife, doctors replaced one of his discs and inserted steel rods into his spine.
He learned to walk after two years of intense physical therapy, but he'll never have feeling in his penis again. "Since my accident, it's just embarrassing to want to do anything with a girl," he says. "I just find it easier to blow off a guy."
Over the past year, the site's profile has increased; he gets 1,500 hits per day and he's making more and more blog friends. "[Blogging] has made me question my sexuality. I used to say I'm bi but, I don't know, there are other factors that make me wonder if I'm really bi, or if I'm just doing it because I have nothing better to do."
In Toronto, You can't toss a bucket of pig's blood at a Queen West condo sales centre these days without splashing another DJ-cum-designer. Although the DJ-by-night story is a familiar one in the city's west-end bar scene, drag queen Produzentin stands out among the regular crowd at the Beaver, now a certifiable Parkdale homo Mecca. With a closet full of custom couture creations, a conspicuous beard and even more conspicuous wiggery, this Frankfurt-native has embraced a variety of vocations, from blogging and book design to erotic fruit-styling and maple syrup production.
As Produzentin, she firmly resists the "designer" moniker, declaring it a gross oversimplification. "I'm Eddie Piehands. I have my hands in every pie," she explains. "It's nice when people ask you to do things you've never done before. If you work in one area, why not take that talent to another area?"
German accent notwithstanding, her blog (Produzentin.com
) has acquired a distinctly Canadian dimension since she came to Toronto last year with her partner, filmmaker Oliver Husain. She's used the blog to promote the increasingly popular monthly dance party Hot Nuts at the Beaver (the next one is Sat, Dec 9) and hosted the Sugarshack, a one-off party/installation at the Power Plant that featured a wooden syrup distillery in the middle of the dancefloor.
On-line, Produzentin writes about things she's into, such as fashion designer Gareth Pugh and filmmaker Douglas Sirk. She's even created her own jingles for Coke Blãk and Diet Pepsi Jazz.
Naturally she was horrified to learn she'd lost the awards for best diva and best Canadian blog at the Gay Bloggies. "As you know, I deserved to win," she says, before donning a blindingly psychedelic dress and sticking her head in the oven. "The Best Canadian Blog award is mine. I was at the Rockies, Tim Hortons, Niagara Falls. I've been to Dildo, Newfoundland. I even visited a sugar shack. How much more Canadian can you be?"
There's more than a hint of incredulity in Andrew McDonald's voice as he tries to think of a reason why his blog was named "Sexiest queer candy" and "best Canadian blog" at the Gay Bloggies. "I really have no idea," he says dryly. His comprehensive photo moblog (mobile blog) featuring more than a few hunky self-portraits may explain the former, but the latter is admittedly a little more mystifying: McDonald isn't Canadian.
Born and raised in Montana, McDonald divides his time between his job at a Seattle software firm and Vancouver, where his partner of four years lives. Lately his busy work schedule has kept him from the blog (Bravehound.com
), which he'll update with personal photos, his own house mixes and techie talk.
A self-described cell-phone geek who spends a lot of time in phone forums, McDonald started reviewing Nokia products on his blog. The company noticed and invited him to participate in its Blogger Outreach Program. Now he gets free Nokia toys to review and is considering focussing the site on the emerging world of mobile content creation.
"[Bravehound] started as a photo journal for my friends and family and after a year it took on a life of its own," he says. "I've wanted to change it to focus on mobility. I'm starting to develop a relationship with Nokia and they'll send me hardware. But I've got all different kinds of readers so it might be a weird change for some people."
!! omg blog !!
A veteran blogger at 25, Frank Griggs (Omgblog.com
) has witnessed all manner of shameless self-promotion. Case-in-point, the American expat recently found himself nominated for a Verve Award. "I didn't nominate myself, surprisingly enough," says Griggs. "There are so many of those awards, they're total bullshit. Verve is some blogger who started these awards so all the people he nominated would go to his site and link to him. It's a very cynical way of generating traffic."
Omgblog.com was born in 2003 while Griggs was studying at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Last year he moved to Toronto with his Canadian spouse and is becoming a landed immigrant. He busies himself with the blog, writing the odd gay porn review and helping throw the monthly gay rap party Big Primpin'.
Griggs has dabbled in a few genres — celebrity gossip, political commentary and gay news — but he's found the most popular items are the "OMG he's naked" column in which he uncovers overlooked instances of celebrity nudity and "OMG how cute," in which he showcases nauseatingly cute animal photos.
Blogging has also allowed him to travel. In May, he traversed North America for the gay news site Queerty. He partied in gay bars in every major Western Canadian city and even befriended former boy band front man Dave Moffat during a karaoke night in Calgary. In Winnipeg, he walked into Gio's and was immediately accosted by a group of readers who'd been following his exploits. Sadly, blogging has yet to foster a meeting with his musical hero, Dolly Parton, who recently eluded him during a taping of CityLine. More optimistically, he notes, "my blog has led me to discover the hidden drag treasures of Edmonton."
Blog success has crept up on Toronto-based Jereon Maximo (2xy.org
), a twentysomething software developer from the Philippines who spends his days combing the web for the kind of pithy news stories that live well-circulated lives on-line. He calls this genre of blogging, "bloggerotica," which is defined as "usually nonproductive or work-stymieing activity on the Internet of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate mouse clicks and generate web traffic."
A typical entry is a story about a Florida woman who died after becoming wedged upside down behind a bookcase while adjusting a plug on her TV set. This item is not particularly gay, but Maximo says he's never courted a gay audience. "When I was young, I used to make zines and give them out to my friends," he says. "Blogging is similar: You create something on-line and you want people to peruse what you created so you go out of your way to make people read it."
When he started blogging in 2000, awkward tension arose at home after his brother discovered his snarky diary entries. Nowadays he's totally out as a blogger and all his past self-promotion has paid off: Aside from a Gay Bloggie nom, he's also listed as one of the best "Link Blogs" with BoingBoing in The Rough Guide To Blogging.
"I didn't go into the whole thing thinking I had to blog gay," he says. "I'd blog and sometimes it would come out really, really gay. When you look at my site, there's no denying it. But in terms of my writing, I write the way I talk and I don't talk gay enough. So maybe that's why I lost the Gay Bloggie."